Cyclist flying high with His Airness
By GODWIN KELLY
DAYTONA BEACH -- Aaron Yates now has a team he can call all his own.
The three-time American Motorcyclist Association champion from Georgia moved from a factory team to a privateer operation -- but just not any independent race team.
In 2007, Yates will be aboard a Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki gunning for the AMA Superstock championship.
"He's into the motorcycle road racing," Yates said of his new boss, the NBA legend. "I feel honored to be associated with such a big name. People might not know what a Suzuki is, but they know who Michael Jordan is."
Yates was one of dozen top motorcycle racers participating in a Dunlop tire test at Daytona International Speedway. The three-day test concluded Wednesday.
Jordan's team has made steady progress since it was founded two years ago.
Jordan Motorsports sees the hiring of Yates as taking the next step up the competition ladder.
"In the last couple of years, I think the Jordan Suzuki team has proved it is capable of building motorcycles running up front," team manager Ken Abbott said.
"Not to take anything away from (former Jordan riders) Steve Rapp or Jason Pridmore, but Aaron Yates is a three-time AMA champion and still very competitive."
Yates has been given the keys to the Jordan racing kingdom. The team will lean heavily on his championship expertise during the 2007 AMA road racing season.
"This is an opportunity for Aaron because for so long he's been the second or third guy on the factory Suzuki team," Abbott said. "This is really his team now. He can have his own identity and be the leader."
Jordan Motorsports hopes to be competitive in the Superbike class and become the class of the Superstock field.
It's a tall challenge, but one Yates accepts with a smile on his face.
"When it comes time to go racing, we'll have a good package," Yates said. "I know we can go out and do the business. There's a lot of knowledge with this group."